International Ice Hockey Federation

Austria finds magic formula

Austria finds magic formula

5-0 win vs. Korea creates exciting final day

Published 28.04.2017 00:05 GMT+3 | Author Martin Merk
Austria finds magic formula
Photo: Andrey Basevich
The Koreans were on the way to promotion after starting with three wins but Austria took them down to earth with a 5-0 win and took the lead in the standings.

“Holy smokes! That was an ass-kicking!” Korea head coach Jim Paek said after the game. “We knew it would be a very difficult tournament and we knew Austria would be strong. They dominated the game, beat us at every puck, won the battles, forced us to make turnovers. They played a great game overall.”

Austria now leads with 9 points, as many as Korea has. Both teams have it in their own hands to reach a top-2 placing and promotion tomorrow in their games against Poland and Ukraine respectively. Kazakhstan with 8 points and Poland with 7 remain in the race as well.

Austria showed an impressive and efficient performance in the first period to open a three-goal gap and bring the Koreans in a situation they haven’t experienced before at this tournament. The three goals were scored in the second half of the first period within just over four minutes of time.

“We played a lot of games in a short period of time. You just try to stick to the game plan best as possible, try to make the least amount of mistakes and sometimes you’re going to be lucky. I think tonight we had a few more bounces going for us and that was the difference,” said Brian Lebler.

“Korea is fast, they got some good players, good goaltending. For us we had to defensively make sure we don’t get any odd-man rushes and stuff. I think we did a pretty good job and Starki [Bernhard Starkbaum] played really well.”

At 12:09, while the Koreans tried to clear the puck in their zone, Lukas Haudum intercepted a pass from Hyonho Oh and beat goalie Matt Dalton with a shot from the left face-off circle to open the scoring.

Just 47 seconds later Lebler scored after a horizontal pass from Manuel Ganahl that the Koreans tried to intercept without success. And three-and-a-half minutes later the Austrians scored in a similar situation. Dominique Heinrich concluded a 2-on-1 after a side pass from Lebler with the 3-0 goal.

“I’m very happy about the game. We knew that the Korean team is a very good hockey team, they made big steps in the last 12 months and started the tournament with three very good games and we knew we had to play very strong tonight to beat them and we did,” Austria head coach Roger Bader said.

The period ended with 11-11 shots on goal with the difference that the Austrians found a way to overcome the Korean defence and keep up with the Koreans’ speed. With the staff around head coach Roger Bader investing a lot of time in analysing the opposing players both here in Kyiv and during the rest of the season, the Austrians seemed to have done their video job well and seemed to have found the magic formula.

“There’s no secret. We did every day the same. We watched how they forecheck but we do this for every game, it’s our daily business. Then we try to play our style and use our strengths,” Bader commented. “Today we were lucky that we have a good start.”

In the second period it didn’t take long until the Austrians scored a fourth time. Konstantin Komarek shovelled the puck in after a Dominique Heinrich shot had hit the goalie and the disc was sliding toward the goal line behind him. That also ended the game for Dalton. A massive factor in the success during the previous three games, the Canadian-turned-Korean wasn’t able to keep his team in the game today and was replaced with Sungje Park.

“It’s not the goalies’ fault. Hockey is a team game, everybody has to play. We have to play better as a team,” said Paek, who had hoped for better defensive work not only from his defencemen but also from the forwards. The injury of defenceman Eric Regan didn’t make the situation easier. “Regan had a high stick into his face. I’m sure he’s not going to come back,” the coach said.

Backup goalie Park, who played his first game in an IIHF event in two years, kept his net clean until the Austrians scored with 4-on-4 players on the ice at 9:09 of the third period. Markus Schlacher skated on the right side and sent a pass to the crease intended for Thomas Raffl on the left but it was stopped by the skate of Korean defenceman Alex Plante. Steven Strong was the fastest to react and made it 5-0.

The final day begins at 13:30 with Kazakhstan facing Hungary in need of a win to keep promotion hopes alive. At 17:00 Austria will play Poland in a clash of two teams still in the race while Korea plays winless host Ukraine at 20:30.


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